TheHipHopDemocrat’s Seventh Annual Best Albums of the Year List, Who Makes The Cut?

Back for a seventh straight year, we at TheHipHopDemocrat once again despite being a mostly Hip-Hop based website, decided to include not only Hip-Hop, but a few of the other genres we cover a lot of, such as R&B, Jazz and Soul, as part of our latest best albums of the year list. Counting down from 10 to one, we cover a bunch of the variety of different artists and albums we covered throughout the year and came up with the following for our best of 2022 album’s. A few honorable mentions were even thrown in as well. So without further ado here is TheHipHopDemocrat’s seventh Best Albums of the Year list.

10. Lucky Daye – Candydrip: In most year’s. Very talented GRAMMY Award-winning singer and songwriter, Lucky Daye’s latest album, Candydrip. Would be recognized as the best R&B/Soul album to drop here in 2022. But with another strong year for a genre that has been declared dead numerous times. Daye, who is one of the forefront vocalists of great current R&B/Soul crooners. Just barely makes it at number 10 on our Top Albums of the Year list, but at the same time. Shows why the genre is very much alive and well with his sophomore album. A record drenched in sultry R&B goodness. BWhether it be the blissfully good Smino-featured, very horns-infused, God Body or the lust-filled and very funky Prince-esque, Feels Like or even. The very rich production with great romantic stylings on Guess. To the great vocal performance and romantically great lyrical storytelling on the title track or even the passion he shows for romance both good and bad. On records like Over and Fvckin’ Sound. The moody guitar-backed instrumental on, Over and Gospel-infused drums on the innocent, yet somewhat lust-filled, Fvckin Sound. Really showing Daye’s ability to bring many genres together, but at the same time. Still having R&B and Soul as his core sound. Bringing old-school sounds with new to push the genre. Daye shows with the stirringly passionate vocal performance and anguish on the heartstrings pulling M-Phazes and Aidan Rodriguez co-produced, Used to Be. How like throughout most of the album, he is moving the genre forward in a way. That many of his contemporaries can learn from as well. To apply to themselves in showing how they can grow to be better artists in the way that Daye does on, Candydrip. Daye easily could have closed the album perfectly with, Used to Be, too. But shows just how much he has grown by closing the album with the great three-track run of Fever, Cherry Forest and Ego. Fever, with its floating guitar-infused backing and resonating bass line, setting the stage perfectly for what is easily Daye’s most emotionally passionate vocal peak on the album. While, Cherry Forest, with its undeniable bass-driven groove backdrop that is reminiscent of classic 70’s Philly soul. Is the perfect backdrop for Daye to sing with such unwavering confidence about finding his romantic love. He is waiting all night for. The theme of nighttime love, romance and closeness most of us long for in a significant other. Prominent throughout the album. As well as on the very soaringly smooth drums, bass, bells and guitars of the closing record, Ego. A record about how we can all can shed our, “ego.” To become better lovers, partners and humans to others around us.nnThe perfect way to close a nearly flawless album too.

9. Arin Ray – Hello Poison: Cincinnati-bred singer and songwriter, Arin Ray. Is among the more talented artists to emerge on the R&B and Soul scene within the past near decade. Having been mostly behind the scenes co-writing songs for the likes of Chris Brown, K. Michelle, Jason Derulo and Ro James. Before stepping out on his own solo in 2016 with his Phases EP. Delivering his debut album, Platinum Fire a couple of years later. Ray took a long hiatus before releasing his sophomore album, Hello Poison. Back in June of this year. A record that shows his ability to deliver great silky smooth and mellow R&B. Along with great ranges of Neo-Soul, Funk and Pop as well. Doing so in such a effortlessly sexy and exuberant energy that is comparable really only to Miguel. Ray shows this right away on tracks like the very groovy Trevor Lawrence, Q Vandross and Camper co-produced standout, This Is Nice. To the Johan Lenox, Los Hendrix, Scum, Camper and Carter Lang co-produced, Gold. Where he sings with such ease about a woman he is trying to have sex with. But the very funk-filled backdrop of keys, brass, a sultry bassline and strums of a guitar on the glass-shattering sensually pop-funk dance anthem, Freak. Is where Ray really shows off his cleverly risqué penmanship. As he sings with such fun about the devilishly sinful lyrical prowess we have come to expect from groups like, Silk Sonic or even in the past groups like George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic. Hideout, is yet another standout where you almost can’t tell the difference between Ray’s voice and Miguel’s. Which is also why the two artists are so comparable to each other. Singing about sex and the emotions that go with it throughout most of the album. Like so many other great R&B album’s of both now and in the past. Set It Off, is the perfect example of Ray taking that sexually obsessive nature of a few R&B stars and with his stellar falsetto cries. Going straight to the point of singing and also given a spoken monologue on what sex really means to him. Meanwhile leading single, The Mood. Is a very stellar bedroom burner. That besides detailed singing about sex in the bedroom from Ray. Also features a poetic, just as detailed guest verse from D Smoke. Records like this really showing off Ray’s talents as a great singer and songwriter with great detail. While the lovely backdrop Ray co-produced with Camper. On the appropriately titled, Lovely. Finds Ray so effortlessly singing about all the lovely ways he’s trying to sway a woman. Yet another standout is the soulful waterfall of emotionally great vocal runs from Ray and Terrace Martin on, Storm. That perfectly culminates in the jazzy brass outro from Martin on sax. The very experimental, yet playful keystrokes and soulful strums of guitar on the immersively and timeless sounding, Ms. Frustration. The perfect backdrop for Ray and his guests, VanJess. To deliver such great vocal performances about sex. The Hitmaka, TH3ory, Kid Jupiter, Camper and RockBoy co-produced, Bad Idea. That’s arguably not only easily one of top two tracks on the album, but one of the best released all year. With the very great vocal performances that both Ray and fellow great singer and songwriter, Blxst. Both show throughout the silky great sure to be hit record. Easily the best track on the album though is the very slinky smooth and emotional, What It Is. A very emotionally stellar collaboration with the incomparably talented, Ari Lennox. That shows why both artists are not only two of the top forefront artists in R&B and Soul right now. But really all of music. Ray’s very masterful performance on both the complicated and spiraling complex ways of love and sex. Helping him deliver an album that is not only one of the best and most honest self-portraits of his impeccably diverse R&B range. But one of the best album’s to drop across all of music here in 2022.

8. Crook & Joell – Harbor City Season One: Crook & Joell, the duo of former Slaughterhouse groupmates. As well as fellow XXL Freshman Class of 2007 alumni, KXNG CROOKED and Joell Ortiz. Over the past several years decided to form a group together as a duo. When it was truly clear there would not be any reunion of their former supergroup, Slaughterhouse. First formed just a few months after the pandemic when they released their surprise debut project and EP, H.A.R.D. in 2020 before releasing their somewhat controversial debut album as a group, Rise and Fall of Slaughterhouse, earlier this year. The duo doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. As they released back in September. Their sophomore album, Harbor City Season One. Another truly amazing and brilliantly executed album from start to finish. Of the 24-track effort that clocks in at just a little over an hour. Complete with skits that tie into the theme and tales of the album that both Crook and Joell. Are so brilliantly able to execute through with their poignant storytelling, elite lyricism and emceeing. The cohesiveness and how both, Crook and Joell, were able to stick to the theme of the album throughout. While also showing their undeniably great chemistry they have together as a duo. Is what really made this album work so well. Especially on tracks like, Heat Wave, the DJ Silk-produced, Welcome to Harbor City and Holy Water. As well as the very cinematic Hesami-produced, Energy. That has some of the most vivid storytelling from both Crook & Joell on the album. The Heatmakerz-produced Vibrate Higher featuring AZ, Dead Body, Don’t Forget About Her featuring Blakk Soul and Ocean Terminal featuring Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeweliet. Also being among several of the more standout tracks from the album. Overall, Harbor City Season One, is a truly brilliant album from both Crook & Joell, which shows why both emcee’s are among the best emcee’s and lyricists alive. You will always have to rewind a lot of times to catch all of what they said. The chemistry, Crook & Joell, are able to bounce back-and-forth off one another throughout virtually the whole album. Among the many reasons they were able to deliver such a stellar top tier album. That fell just barely short of being a classic and why it’s not only one of the top Hip-Hop album’s, but best album’s released across all of music here in 2022. The fact that it’s not a classic, but still among my more favorite album’s released this year. Shows not only how brilliant and amazing the album really is, but its staying power to hit home with me and so many others too. Whether you actually lived or didn’t live the street-rap cinematic raps they mostly rap about.

7. Ravyn Lenae – HYPNOS: Chicago is filled with many great not only R&B/Soul, but artists of all genres of music. Not only now, but throughout its storied history. So even the most talented of artists can get lost in the shuffle. Such is not the case though with still rising 23-year-old singer and songwriter, Ravyn Lenae. Who put out her long-awaited and highly-anticipated debut album, HYPNOS, earlier this year. An album where over virtually all 16 tracks. Lenae is able to show off her simple, yet magically divine and angelic vocals. Over mostly futuristic and neo-soul type production throughout. The album is not only one of the best R&B/Soul album’s released this year, but one of the best album’s released across all of music here in 2022. Not to mention among the better debut album’s you will ever hear that shows why Lenae is one of the most talented vocalists and singers in all of music right now. Who has a very bright future and will be here for plenty of years. As well as generations to come.

6. Nas & Hit-Boy – King’s Disease III: Nobody has had quite a run as Nas has this late in their career in the storied history of Hip-Hop. But at 49-years-old and already in his third prime and ironically enough as Hip-Hop, itself, goes into its 50th year of existence. It’s truly quite remarkable and inspiring the rejuvenation that Hit-Boy has brought out of Nas over these past two plus year’s with the very unlikely duo’s King’s Disease trilogy. As well as the remarkable surprise EP, Magic. That they released last December. The duo has now delivered the epic and celebratory, King’s Disease III. Which as Nas alludes to with bars of, “They argue KD1, KD2 or Magic, what’s harder? When KD3 go harder than all of them.” When you listen to the way Nas so effortlessly and masterfully flows with such precession and ease. From the very opening track, Ghetto Reporter, all the way up to the album’s closing track, Don’t Shoot and bonus track, Till My Last Breath. You can see why Nas has a pretty good argument for making such a statement about his 15th solo album of his very illustrious and storied career. That is easily one of the top not only Hip-Hop, but album’s released across all of music here in 2022. Which also not only lets us know why Nas was once again one of the top emcee’s this year, but once again helps to continually prove why he’s among the top three to five emcee’s and lyricists of all-time.

5. Danger Mouse & Black Thought – Cheat Codes: Throughout Hip-Hop’s storied history there have been many great emcee and producer tandems to emerge. Whether it be Eric B and Rakim to EPMD, Gang Starr and Mobb Deep to name just a few. While one of the more recent to emerge is producer, Danger Mouse and lead, The Roots, emcee, Black Thought. Pairing together for, Cheat Codes. It really is like a, “cheat code.” In the way that Thought is able to so seamlessly weave his way with his stellar emceeing and wordplay throughout 12 tracks of Danger Mouse’s very sample-based production that favors 60’s and 70’s psych, prog and soul recordings. As well as an eerie backing too. Whether it be on the opening track, Sometimes or the title track. It really allows for Thought to really deliver with such surgical procession his always stellar wordplay. The Raekwon and Kid Sister featured, The Darkest Part. One of the tracks where it’s most on display. The sometimes trippy and triumphant production on tracks like lead single, No Gold Teeth. Really allowing for Thought’s effortless flow and stellar bars such as, “I am my own supplier, selling goods to the buyer. The torch to the eye of the storm that’s on fire. The native translator, each jaunt I’m charting higher. They requested my IG, I replied ‘deny’. Tell me I’m in the top 3, they ain’t never lied. Stop fooling that pat cake, the Paris with a ride. The car’s 2 to 5, the door’s suicide.” To most show off though why he is not only one of the best emcees alive. But still among the best ever to touch a mic. There is many highlights throughout the album too. Not only from Thought, but his guest features. Who show they can hold their own, if not deliver better performances of their own. Whether it be the Joey Bada$$, Russ and Dylan Cartlidge featured, Because to the Michael Kiwanuka featured, Aquamarine. To even the MF DOOM featured, Belize and A$AP Rocky and Run the Jewels featured, Strangers. The latter having Killer Mike not only delivering arguably one of the best verses on the album, but one of the top 10 verses of the year. Thought does show throughout the album too though. The undeniably great chemistry that both him and Danger Mouse have as a duo together. That after delivering such a timeless amazing masterpiece debut album as a duo together. Which is not only one of the best Hip-Hop album’s of the year, but one of the top five album’s released across all of music here in 2022. That hopefully leads to several more album’s from both Danger Mouse & Black Thought as a duo.

4. Kehlani – blue water road: Every artist usually has one album that is by far their most definitive and mostly universally recognized best work. For Kehlani it’s her most recent album, blue water road. That she released all the way back in April. Showing how well the album still holds up. It’s an album that is not only among the most beautifully refreshing and inspiring. As well as truly touching album’s you will ever hear. But one that is a masterpiece from top to bottom. That you can tell, Kehlani really put all of her heart, soul and passion into. The growth, love and healing. As well as happiness and joy. That is exhabarated on each track on full display. Throughout all 13 tracks. Really showing how much Kehlani has evolved not only as an artist, but as a human being as well. Her peace of mind and transparent depth. Showing the maturity and peacefully great state of mind. That is like the calm cool breeze, joy and happiness. You see along the ocean shore of a, blue water road. Which is why the title is perfect for the album too. The fact that it stands at number four on our Top Albums of the Year list shows what another great year for music it was as well.

3. India Shawn – BEFORE WE GO (DEEPER): Back in July very talented rising R&B/Soul singer and songwriter, India Shawn. Released her very beautifully soulful debut album, BEFORE WE GO (DEEPER). Executive produced by GRAMMYS Award-winning producer, D’Mile, who also produced all 14 tracks. The album is one that from the production to the amazing vocals and songwriting from India. Is a truly timeless and classic masterpiece R&B album in every sense of the word that you can really feel in your soul. Especially in the way that India is able to sing so beautifully and effortlessly such soulfully heartfelt honest stories of love. NOn records such as CALI LOVE, DON’T PLAY WITH MY HEART and TOO SWEET. Both India and fellow very talented singer and songwriter, Ambré. Singing of their love of their home of California on the album’s first single, CALI LOVE. The way that India is able to truly show off her silky smooth beautiful vocals on records like the sensual and sexy vibes of love she is able to sing about on the very sensual also previously released single, EXCHANGE. As well as also previously released singles NOT TOO DEEP featuring 6LACK, TO CHANGE MY MIND and SUPERFINE. Is among the highlights on a very stellar album. That also features the very beautifully groovy Anderson .Paak featured standout, MOVIN’ ON. Which has Paak delivering by far one of not only his best guest features, but performances period of his very amazing career so far. Not to mention the very spiritually amazing, PATIENCE. That has Shawn petitioning to God about guiding her and extending her patience about not only love, but his master plan for her. Very talented musician, Cory Henry, closes out the song with an absolutely beautiful calming organ solo. As one of the few features on the album. The beautifully amazing and talented singer and songwriter, Kaye Fox, who does a spoken word intro to the album and also does another spoken passage at the end of the closing track, JUST YOU. Expanding on the idea of love we all seek and look for. JUST YOU, also really shows off the Brandy influence Shawn has previously stated she has the most of any of her records so far too. In how much she sounds like her on that record. Overall, BEFORE WE GO (DEEPER), is an album that really shows off the undeniably great chemistry between both, India Shawn and producer, D’Mile. To help Shawn deliver not only one of the top two R&B/Soul album’s of the year. But one of the top three album’s released across all of music here in 2022. Not to mention one of the more soulfully honest debut album’s ever recorded. That truly shows that India Shawn is a truly talented singer and songwriter, who will be around for plenty of years. As well as probably even many generations to come.

2. Ari Lennox – age/ sex/ location: A sensually smooth, soulful, fun and sexy masterpiece that is for the grown and sexy. That is how Dreamville Records singer and songwriter, Ari Lennox’s highly-anticipated and long-awaited sophomore album, age/sex/location. Can best be described in some of the more simple terms. Like her very timeless and truly classic masterpiece debut album, Shea Butter Baby. Lennox once again dips into the rich sounds of slow tempo and jazzy horns, neo-soul type beats that were so prevalent. With in-house Dreamville producer, Elite, once again producing a majority of age/ sex/ location. Just as he did with Lennox’s debut too. One thing that the very talented GRAMMY Award-nominated artist makes quite clear from the album’s very sensually, sexy and playfully fun opening record, POF, too. Is that while she is searching and trying to find love in terms of how things are in today’s dating climate, she is also discovering herself and cause of that doesn’t necessarily need love from someone else. A theme that’s continued on the very soulfully very standout previously released single, Hoodie. A record that probably the most of the album’s 12 tracks, taps into that classic early 2000’s Neo-Soul sound that Lennox has always been compared to and perfected. As she so soulfully sings with her sultry vocals about someone she is trying to hook up to get in their hoodie. While the next track, Waste My Time. Is another pretty standout record. It’s on the very next and previously lead single, Pressure, though. That Lennox is really able to show off her sultry golden honey vocals the most. As over the very Jermaine Dupri, Bryan-Michal Cox and Elite co-produced grown and sexy mid-tempo jam. Lennox yearns for rough love and boastingly sings about her horny bedroom fantasies and requests. All while truly showing off her very soulfully amazing vocal range and why she’s easily not only one of the best voice, talents and beauties of this generation. But ever. The A/S/L (Interlude) showing how we used to use things like AIM trying to hook up with others going into Mean Mug, was quite brilliant too. By far one of the top three tracks on the album though is the very impressive vocal display and amazing chemistry that Lennox shows with fellow great singer and songwriter, Lucky Daye, on, Boy Bye. The poetic back and forth flirtatious banter between both artists so fun, playful and amazing. That undeniably great chemistry between Lennox and Daye comes in a very close second to her and Chloé on the very sexy, raunchy and playfully fun, Leak It. Which though it’s the second best song on the album. It’s by far the most sexiest song on the album and easily one of the more sexiest songs you will ever hear. The way that Lennox and Chloé are so mesmerizing together and able to steam things up in such a sexy and seductive way. Making you feel like you are almost hearing the sounds of what a raunchy, yet still somewhat playfully sensual sex tape or sex scene in a movie. Would unshamingly be undressed and unraveled into. Among the more standout records also on the album are the final two tracks. Starting with the more jazzy undertones of piano riffs and drums on the very slow-tempo, Blocking You. Where Lennox so effortlessly and beautifully sings with her amazing vocals about cutting off a dude. She no longer wants to see. That message evoked even more on the very sensually smooth closing record and previously released single, Queen Space. A very soulfully smooth amazing collaboration with yet another great R&B/Soul singer and songwriter to emerge over the past several years. In Summer Walker. That’s also the perfect record to close such another truly timeless masterpiece not only R&B/Soul album. But just album period across all genres. That is not only better than Lennox’s very memorably amazing debut album, but also shows how much she has evolved as an artist and just person over that time as well. sex/ age/ location, also another album released this year that’s not only the best R&B/Soul album released here in 2022. But shows that despite some of the naysayers, the genre is very much alive and well with plenty of talent currently evoking that space. Lennox among its more brighter stars too that continues to prove why she will be around for several more generations to come. Long before even herself, me, you and all of us are long gone.

1. Apollo Brown & Philmore Greene – The Cost of Living: A soulfully honest, personal and introspective cinematic audio motion picture masterpiece. That includes some of the best emceeing, storytelling, flows and production, you can ever hear. That is how you can best describe the collaboration album, Cost of Living, from Chicago emcee, Philmore Greene and Detroit producer, Apollo Brown. Who with that great Midwest connection show what an undeniably great chemistry they have together. That was long overdue and well worth the wait. Overall from the rapping to the bars, stellar emceeing, storytelling, flows and production. Cost of Living. Is a truly flawless album. You can play from beginning to end over and over again. That is a true cinematic audio motion picture masterpiece in every sense of the word. Which grips and puts a choke hold on you from the very opening track to the end and plays like a movie in audio form. With Greene’s very stellar emceeing and Brown’s impeccably brilliant production. That certifies Greene as one of the best emcee’s in all of Hip-Hop and not just Chicago. And should finally put him on the radar as a more well known emcee nationally and also get Brown his own recognition that has seemed to allude him for whatever reason. As one of the most talented and gifted producers ever. Cost of Living, is not only easily the best Hip-Hop album released here in 2022, but the best album released across all of music this year. As a matter of fact. I will even go as far as saying this is the best album in both of their already stellar catalogues and one of the best album’s released so far in this decade.

Honorable mentions: Jessie Reyez – YESSIE: Jessie Reyez is easily one of the most talented singer and songwriter’s in all of music. Her ability to deliver such great melodies with her signature powerful and soulfully passionate vocals. To go with Jessie’s mostly heart-wrenchingly great honest storytelling that is very relatable to so many. Is what attracted me and so many others to her music and continues to do so. For her very tight core fan base. So after delivering such an honest, heart-wrenching, yet powerful debut album. In, BEFORE LOVE CAME TO KILL US, in 2020. That is easily among the most definitive debut album’s of all-time. You knew it was going to be hard to top or even come close to that for her followup sophomore album. With the highly-anticipated, YESSIE. She is able to do just that though. Delivering an album that is a very beautifully honest and intimate album. That once again shows the remarkable depth, great songwriting, honestly raw and real. As well as very relatable storytelling that we have come to expect from Jessie Reyez. While also delivering an even more personal and transcendent side of her. That has elevated Jessie even more not only musically, but personally as a great human. That has learned to start to turn her darkness into a more joyful and healing self. That is focused on making herself better both musically and personally with each new day. Which is why it should be no surprise that it results in not only, YESSIE, being one of the best R&B/Soul albums released this year. But one of the best album’s released across all of music in 2022. That is one of my personal favorites and why it is an honorable mention on our top album’s of 2022 year-end list and would have been even higher. If not for the immensely great amount of good quality music once again released this year.

Jon Connor – SOS II: The Road To Legendary: While many people championed Pusha T’s most recent solo album, It’s Almost Dry. As one of April and this year’s hottest released Hip-Hop album’s of 2022. It’s actually veteran emcee and one-time Dr. Dre and Aftermath protégé, Jon Connor. Who delivered one of the best not only Hip-Hop album’s, but album’s across all of music this year. With his most recent album, SOS II: The Road To Legendary. An appropriate name for what is a pretty legendary and nearly perfect album. That from the very aggressive and hard-hitting Kalen Dixson-produced track, The Sequel (Intro). Where Connor gives his all on the mic, like an emcee just entering the game. To the Dixson-produced, 2020 Survivor. Where Connor gives more aggressive bars, but also gives some great storytelling about surviving 2020. Sets the tone for what is a very stellar album. That from tracks like the Shogun-produced banging title track where Connor addresses other rappers faking a certain image just to attain wealth and fame. Which he himself would never do. To the very reflective and cinematic iRock-produced, The Afterlife. That features a very soulfully amazing hook from Olivia Kuper Harris. To to the Rio Da Ghost-produced, The Search. Where Connor truly shows off his storytelling skills. As he raps about how everyone be searching for a purpose and happiness we all want, but doesn’t satisfy other rappers, entertainers or other people in general even when they get it. Cause he feels it is a figment of our imagination. Connor also shows with tracks like the very upbeat Dixson-produced, 3021. That features a stellar guest verse from, Cam Howe. That perfectly compliments Connor’s verse. As well is with what is not only arguably the best track on the album, but one of the best tracks released this year, Story To Tell. That has Connor giving some very raw and honest storytelling lyrics. Alongside a very soulfully complimentary hook from Candice Pillay. That actually opens and builds up to Connor’s opening verses on the track. What versatility he has an emcee and artist. It is also very beautiful standout tracks like, Let Go. That feature Connor rapping very therapeutically beautiful verses alongside beautifully sang hooks from TAJ, Enjoy Melody and Derrick Edmond. As well as very great tracks like, Blow Up. That make, Connor, deliver what is easily not only one of the best album’s released here in 2022, but of the past several year’s. This album one that has plenty of replay value and in a lot of ways shows what a truly great emcee that Connor is. As well as why he’s regarded as, “The People’s Rapper.” Like with Jessie Reyez’s, YESSIE, album the only reason Connor didn’t make it into our actual top 10 album’s of the year list and only as an honorable mention is cause of it being another pretty great year. Here in 2022 of so much great music released.

Freddie Gibbs – $$$ ($oul $old $eparataly): When it comes to some of the most consistent emcees over the last decade plus. Gary, Indiana-bred, Freddie Gibbs, is among the more notable. Mostly known in recent year’s for his impressive collaborative album’s with the likes of The Alchemist for, Alfredo and Madlib with, Bandana. Gibbs, who has been heralded for year’s as a true Gangsta Rap and Underground Hip-Hop fan favorite has now officially graduated to the big leagues with his first official major label debut, SSS ($oul $old $eparately).. Though he was signed to Interscope Records at the beginning of his career and recorded what was supposed to be his original debut album, he got dropped before he was able to ever release it cause of a change in management. $$$, being Gibbs first truly solo album since 2018. He shows that he can still hold his own with a variety of producers ranging from Super Miles to KAYTRANADA, DJ Paul, Jahaan Sweet, Boi-1da, J. LBS, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, Jake One, James Blake and DJ Dahi. As several of the more notable producer’s he works with on the album’s 15 tracks. Though it’s not the Hip-Hop/Rap Album of the Year, Gibbs promised. It’s yet another pretty stellar album to his already great discography. That allows for Gibbs to still show off his always great charismatic flow and witty bars to go along with his potent energy we have come to expect through his rabbit persona. Which we get from the very opening track, Couldn’t Be Done. That is a very brilliantly smooth record that features some very soulfully amazing guest vocals from the legendary, Kelly Price. As Gibbs delivers some of the funny bars such as, “Big Rabbit, I had to Phonte ‘em. I little brother n***as. (Blackness!)” We have become accustomed to from him. Other standouts from the album include the very lush The Alchemist–produced, Blackest in the Room. Where Gibbs with several different flows raps so proudly about being a proud black man. He goes for a more solid trap sound on the very trap banger, Pain & Strife that features a pretty cool sample of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony’s classic, Foe Tha Love of $. Which has a pretty solid guest feature from Offset. That somehow works, but would have been nice to see all members or even some of the actual members of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony on. Whether it is guests like Rick Ross on the very mellow and chilled out, Lobster Omelette. To comedian Jeff Ross adding a very funny voicemail roasting the ish out of Freddie at the end of previously released single, Space Rabbit. Or even Raekwon being featured with Anderson .Paak on arguably one of the album’s top two tracks. In the very groovy .Paak, J. LBS and Tommy Brenneck co-produced, Feel No Pain. To DJ Paul being featured on the club banger, PYS, Pusha T being featured on, Gold Rings and the living icon and Southern rap pioneer, Scarface, being featured on the closing track, Decoded. It shows that Gibbs is everybody’s favorite rapper/emcee. That everyone from legends of the old-school, plus rappers of current and everything in between want to work with. With good reason too. Gibbs stellar rapping and performance on full display on records such as the catchy hard-hitting James Blake-produced banger, Dark Hearted. That sees him unleashing his rapid-fire flow and cutthroat bars. To even his most lyrical display not only on the album, but one of the most lyrical tracks so far of his career with the very personal and emotionally cold, Grandma’s Stove. That also features a very soulfully great closing hook from the legendary, Musiq Soulchild. As he raps so personally about how he nearly got lost in the streets by selling crack before eventually rap saved him. The voicemail from his Mom at the end adding a whole different type of emotion virtually everyone can relate to in some form or another. Overall, Gibbs is able to deliver another pretty stellar album though. That with its fun and interesting theme of his own hotel, $$$. Makes the album that much more entertaining and engaging to enjoy. As well as adds replay value to some tracks that otherwise wouldn’t be so replay able. Definitely among the better Hip-Hop album’s released here in 2022. It shows whether he is on indy or a major. Gibbs is always going to do him to the best of his abilities and why the album lands. As an honorable mention on our Top Albums of the Year list.

Saba – Few Good Things: Chicago emcee, Saba, is not only one of the best rising and upcoming emcee’s from Chicago. To emerge over the last decade. But one of the best emcee’s or artists in music period to emerge over that time as well. With his very introspective and relatable honest lyrics over mostly soulful and jazzy type production. Why he connects so well with not only his generation, but a lot of the middle. As well as even older generation too. With his latest solo album, Few Good Things, he released earlier this year. Saba delivers a very stellar and super rawly honest relatable album. With a lot of introspection and hope. Over mostly soulfully jazzy production. That is easily Saba’s biggest album to date and shows. Why he is easily among the best and most versatile emcee’s in all of Hip-Hop right now. As well as one of the most unique there is. With how he is able to so effortlessly and effectively switch styles. The album is also a masterclass in lyricism and production. That is a very enjoyable listen and has plenty of replay value. As well as being very reminiscent to a lot of the classic Conscious Hip-Hop/Rap of yesteryear. From the likes of Chicago Hip-Hop legends like Common and Lupe Fiasco. With, A Few Good Things. Though not a classic album. Pretty dang close to it and why it lands as an honorable mention on our Top Albums of The Year list.

WESTSIDE BOOGIE – MORE BLACK SUPERHEROES: On his long-awaited and highly-anticipated sophomore album, MORE BLACK SUPERHEROES. Compton emcee, WESTSIDE BOOGIE. Delivers some of his most personal and vulnerably introspective work to date. As he touches on many subjects and themes of personal growth, dealing with trauma, demons, weakness and insecurities throughout the 12 tracks. The richly smooth and almost instrumental production that like his very stellar debut album, Everythings For Sale, is mostly handled by Keyel and Dart is definitely one of the highlights of the album. As it really allows for BOOGIE’s rapping and vocal performances to work even more. Whether it be his improved crooning and smooth rapping on opening track, KILLA MODE, about warning others to stop playing with him to the absolutely aggressive delivery and absolutely stellar rapping on previously released single, STUCK. That has BOOGIE sounding like he is a hungry new emcee again just entering the game. Even to the absolutely beautiful singing and rapping on the beautifully smooth standout, NONCHALANT. That is one of his most complete and beautiful songs to date. The soothing vocals and guest feature from singer, Mamii. Who also makes another great guest feature on the Kalan.Frfr featured, SOMETHIN STRANGE. Elevating the record even more too. LOLSMH II is yet another standout that starts off with a more soulful tone that will leave you speechless with how BOOGIE delivers such a stellar performance about needing the power to be present. Before so seamlessly and cleverly switching to a more funkier sound. As he raps about the ways he needs to be calmer in working through therapy and his traumas. While tracks like the keys and hi-hits infused, CAN’T EVEN LIE. That features Soulja Boy shows off one of BOOGIE’s many stellar flows and shows how he can deliver such a trill and great track. You would never think would be the result of what you get when you see a track with such a feature. Things go back to the more smooth sounds on the very standout, PRIDEFUL II. That has the Shady Records emcee rapping and singing to his girl trying to figure out what she is trying to do. Which is also such a beautifully amazing record that will get stuck in your head from rapping and singing along to cause of how relatable it’s to so many of us too. Things get a little more sensual on the sensually smooth, CAN’T GET OVER YOU. That finds Boog and his guest features Smino and Teezo Touchdown painting such a lyrically smooth grown picture of sensuality to their significant others, they can’t get over. We are introduced to one of his 3 alter egos, RATCHET BOOG, on the aggressive, RATCHET BOOG (INTERLUDE). That also has a pretty cool beat-switch towards the end of the record too. The beat-switches throughout different aspects throughout the album. Which we also see on the very introspective closing track, ANTHONY (WAR). Among the aspects that help make it such a great and enjoyable not only Hip-Hop album, but just album period. That along with the penultimate Snoop Dogg featured, WINDOWS DOWN. Which has BOOGIE delivering easily his best verses on the album and Snoop delivering one of his best verses in a while. As they both show off their very dynamic flow and cocky deliveries while rapping about weed. Is why we have, MORE BLACK SUPERHEROES, as an honorable mention for one of the best albums released here in all of 2022. Which would’ve ranked even higher and even more to a classic. If the album was slightly longer too. It’s also an album that really lets us know how much, WESTSIDE BOOGIE, has grown not only as an artist, but father and person as well. That coupled with his very distinctive voice and flow. Shows how he is a great emcee and artist, who will be here for several years and generations to come.

Kendrick Lamar – Mr . Morale & The Big Steppers: His most dense, diverse, personally introspective and rawly honest album yet. Kendrick Lamar’s latest album, Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers. That he released earlier this year. Is one that plays out like one big theatrical therapy session. Over two discs and 18 tracks. With his longtime partner and mother to his children, Whitney Alford. As the narrator. The album shows many sides of Kendrick. We have never seen before and how he deals with grief, infidelity, generational trauma, struggles with fame and many of the other hardships. All of us as humans go through in our lifetime. As well as many of us can relate to. Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, is the type of therapy and raw emotion, Kendrick needed to get off his chest. To free himself from listeners, fans and non-fans. As well as critics expectations, all alike. An album that though not classic or anywhere near perfect, and with some flaws. Like he himself lets others know. He himself, has. Still one of the best not only Hip-Hop album’s, but album’s released across all of music this year. That ironically enough. Not being made for critical acclaim and an album made for, Kendrick, himself. It still ended up being yet another one to receive him plenty of critically good acclaims, nominations and awards. Including eight nominations for the upcoming 65th Annual Grammy Awards that are set to be held in his hometown of Los Angeles on Feb. 5th of next year. The fact that he only made it as an honorable mention for our Top Albums of the Year list. Shows what another great year for music it was as we conclude and close out the year, 2022.